Skillset celebrated 35 years of operation today in Bathurst with the Board and staff members, taking the opportunity to both reflect on a proud past, and look forward to an invigorating and exciting future.

 Created in 1982 by Bathurst, Orange, Blayney, Parkes, Lithgow and Dubbo Councils and Chambers of Commerce, to help regional businesses by supplying them with apprentices, Central West Group Apprentices, as it was then known, was a Group Training Organisation with one employee and 22 apprentices in the first year of operation. Traineeships were introduced in 1997.

 In the 35 year history the organisation has employed and supported 5,916 apprentices and trainees to completion across central west and western NSW, who have gone on to contribute to keeping our skills base local and our regional businesses supplied with quality professionals.

In 2012 the organisation cemented its commitment to local businesses and young people by establishing an Environment business unit, and to reflect the more diversified nature of the business rebranded to Skillset. Since then Skillset Environment has delivered a range of programs including the Low Income Energy Efficiency Program, Industrial Ecology Program and currently Green Army, Land Works and Spark Tank.

 In January 2015 Skillset Education was launched with the opening of Skillset Senior College at the Flannery Centre in Bathurst, which now provides an alternative pathway for years 10 to 12 education for 70 young people. Since 2016 Skillset Education has also delivered a Regional VET Pathways Program known as Skillset Youth Connect, providing free support to young people aged 15-19 not in school, work or training.

 In 2015 the original apprenticeship and traineeship service was expanded as Skillset Workforce to deliver a full range of employment services including permanent and temporary recruitment services, providing a full employment life cycle service to both employees and businesses alike. Over the past 4 months Skillset Workforce has launched the pre-employment program Skills4Trade and job pledge campaign Pledge250 to help address youth unemployment in the region. As the largest employer of apprentices in the region Skillset Workforce understands the need for young people to both have their license to get a job and also to be able to travel safely to and from work and TAFE and delivers the Safer Driver Course across the region to support both these goals.

Skillset CEO Craig Randazzo says the organisation has come a long way in the last 35 years, but at its heart it remains committed to the same ideals. “Our vision is to create the best future imaginable and everything we do is focussed on that – whether it is helping someone re-engage with education, get a job or learn to drive safely, supporting local businesses or caring for our environment.  We have an incredibly rich heritage and I truly believe we are 35 years strong.  We look forward to the next 35 years as a refreshed and re-invigorated organisation fit for the future.”